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Braun Consulting News
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| Violence in the Workplace Update.|
Our Braun Consulting News newsletters have addressed the various issues surrounding violence in the workplace for over 5 years now.
In researching new information about violence in the workplace for this issue of our newsletter we found a rash of articles covering how HR professionals and companies are "shifting their focus to prevention".
To help you follow the latest developments we felt it was time once again to give you an update on the latest trends and current practices in dealing with the ever-present threat of violence in the workplace.
The current "shifting of focus" by various companies and HR advisors points to the practice of advocating a more aggressive stance towards prevention, rather than mopping up the aftermath of a workplace disaster involving a violent event.
However, this is not really news.
We first covered prevention of workplace violence in our Winter 1997 Issue of Braun Consulting News, in our article "5 Tips on Minimizing Workplace Violence". Most of the information about preventing workplace violence from all of the current sources we found, are similar to suggestions and ideas we cited in our 1997 Newsletter.
We decided to do a short recap of some of the more important areas of prevention that we have covered before, but will also add for you a few new developments, and some new information that may be useful to you in confronting this unpleasant necessity.
All of the information we are presenting is fairly easily available to HR professionals and employers now - so we feel that what might be most useful is simply reviewing some of the information that might be important to you.
Here is a quick recap of some of the more relevant methods of preventing workplace violence:
Recap - Preventing Violence.
1. Written Policy:
- Implement a "Zero Tolerance Workplace Violence Policy". This policy should strictly prohibit employees, as well as anyone else on company premises or engaged in a company-related activity (including customers and visitors), from behaving in a violent or threatening manner.
- The policy should include reporting and investigation procedures.
- Any incident of violence, even threats of violence, should be against your policy.
- Implement a strict no-weapons policy. (And enforce it unequivocally.)
- Employees should be required to report all violent behaviors to management.
- Schedule in an hour or two to learn about this, or take a few minutes and contact Braun Consulting Group for some answers to your questions.
- Continual training of your managers to recognize the warning signs of violence and to defuse potentially violent situations.
- Get the possibilities and a plan for action out in the open during periodic employee meetings.
- Publicly acknowledge that staff is working to maintain a safe working environment.
- During training, cultivate a spirit of cooperation and awareness between workers in any reception area.
A safe workplace is something we expect in our society. We all want to work in a safe environment... so it is our obligation as employers and HR professionals to take an active interest and action in this very important issue. If you need help in implementing any of these policies please contact us at Braun Consulting Group.
- Have well-defined and specific procedures prepared for responses to any incident of workplace violence.
- Conduct routine analysis, evaluation and maintenance of safety features in and around the workplace, possibly including surveillance cameras, metal detectors, alarms, additional lighting, multiple exits, security guards, escorts, and visitor check in procedures.
- Being prepared is the first step to avoid the negative consequences of violence, should it occur.
New Trends & Updates
** Good Information can be a lifesaver.
A method of prevention that has been found to be increasingly effective is to gain as much information as possible about the current climate on the jobsite.
"Climate surveys" can sometimes help to identify employee concerns about the work environment. It may help in identifying such things as weaknesses in points of uncontrolled access, workplace bullying or harassment, or deficient hiring standards.
A hotline can be set up, using either telephone or e-mail. This may alert you to warnings of antisocial behavior, or breaches of physical security.
Your continual review and updating of your work place violence policies and procedures should include maintaining methods of gaining access to important information that may prove critical in preventing an incident of workplace violence.
** Sharing of Information can be crucial.
Appropriate and important information should be shared amongst departments and individuals involved in preventing workplace violence. Smooth communication and cooperation between people can be one of the most important elements of success.
A good idea is to have regular information-sharing meetings between HR, safety, and security departments. The coordination and cooperation of multiple agencies or departments can make or break a company in the event of a significant violent episode in the workplace. You can also include local law enforcement.
All employees in any company should be included in providing and interpreting any information that may be relevant to preventing a possible incident of violence in your workplace.
** Most employers are still unprepared to deal with violent episodes in their own workplace.
It may not seem like news, but studies are showing that the majority of employers have grossly inadequate preparation for an incident of violence. Some are unprepared entirely.
For example, Consultant Larry Chavez, from Critical Incident Associates, indicates that 10% of companies may have a program that could be defended on the stand in court. He estimates that 40% of companies have programs in name only, and that 50% have no programs at all.
Employees are increasingly being sued for negligence and injuries resulting from workplace violence. In light of this it seems that more companies should be taking action to minimize any chance of leaving their employees or jobsites vulnerable to the draining effects of violence.
** Violence develops over time, and may be spotted and prevented before it happens.
Review of incidents of violence in the workplace indicate that people don't usually just "snap". There is a history of behavior that builds up over time.
Even though it is most often an event - a reprimand, layoff, or demotion - that triggers violent behavior, employees have been thinking about taking action before hand. Workplace violence is nearly always premeditated.
The gaining and sharing of appropriate information about individuals or situations that may lead to a violent episode on the jobsite can now be seen as a crucial factor in prevention.
** Outside help can be an important tool to use in preventing or responding to workplace violence.
Police and sheriff's departments usually don't charge for sending officers to visit a company's site to familiarize themselves with the layout and to offer suggestions on preventing violence at your location.
Companies who have established ties to law enforcement as a pre-emptive move are far better prepared to prevent or react to an incident of violence. If you wait until an emergency to call, it is usually too late.
Employers are more frequently using the expertise of other professional consulting firms, including private safety and security firms that specialize in audits for a fee and can be called in as needed.
You can obtain significant help and experience in these matters of workplace violence by contacting Braun Consulting Group for more information.
We can help you be as prepared as is possible in preventing and responding to any incident of violence in your own workplace.
Prevention is the key.
Preparedness and action BEFORE an event of violence can occur is the most important factor that will influence the outcome.
Prevention may seem like common sense, and it is. However, we usually think we are immune, the "it would never happen here" mentality. The reality of life today is that some level of workplace violence exists everywhere.
Most often the violence may not result in an actual case of homicide, but will usually include behavior such as assaults, stalking, or domestic violence. If we have learned anything about this issue, it is that it can occur ANYWHERE.
It may be your own life on the line, or that of a co-worker or employee of yours. Your liability may be personal as well as professional.
You don't want to be asking yourself someday, "is there anything I could have done to prevent this?"
Contact us at Braun Consulting Group if you need to move forward in preventing violence at your workplace. We can help you have a safer place to work.
Follow this link and write to us with your questions or
comments, we will be glad to help you.
Other tips on how employers can
make their workplaces safer:
* Install bullet resistance barriers
* Lock delivery doors
* Lock doors when not open
* Limit access to employees' workspace
* Place height markers by exit doors
* Increase lighting
* Use drop safes
* Video surveillance
* Use door detectors and buzzers
* Install alarms
* Adopt safety procedures for offsite work.
(Tip Source: Bob Carroll of Affinity
Occupational Health's Employee Assistance Program)
4. Defined Contribution Health Plans.